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AIR OPERATIONS
CONTROL OFFICER
CURRENTLY RECRUITING
Aircraft Analysis & maths Gaming & computers
PAY DURING INITIAL OFFICER TRAINING + SIX MONTHS
£31,300+
+ Benefits
PAY AFTER 3 YEARS SERVICE + PROMOTION TO THE RANK OF FLT LT
£47,600+
+ Benefits

The Air Operations (Control) is a diverse, exciting and complex employment area which directs and supports operations both in the UK and around the world. The three key employment areas are Terminal Air Traffic Control (providing an ATC service at an airfield), Area Control (working alongside civilian air traffic controllers at the UK’s Air Traffic Control Centre at Swanwick) and finally as a Weapons Controller (direct fast jet aircraft to intercept potentially hostile aircraft that threaten the integrity of UK Airspace).

Already applied? See what the next steps are >

What will you do?

This is a diverse and exciting role which directs and supports operations in the UK and around the world. There are 3 key employment areas - Terminal Air Traffic Control (ATC), Area Control and Weapons Controller. Within each of these roles you could be:

 

  • Coordinating air traffic to and from military airfields
  • Part of the team that orders Typhoon jets to scramble and intercept suspect aircraft
  • Controlling fighter, surveillance, refuelling and unmanned aircraft as they support missions at home and overseas
  • Working alongside civilian controllers as an Area Radar Controller making sure military aircraft doesn’t clash with civilian airliners
  • Giving specialist battlespace management support to both UK and international missions around the world
  • Travelling on military operations as a Tactical Air Traffic Controller, setting up temporary runways
Minimum Education Requirement
  • Have GCSEs at Grade C/4 or Scottish National 5 at Grade C in English, Maths and at least three other subjects.
  • Have at least 2 A2 Levels/3 Highers at Grade C or above (excluding General Studies or Critical Thinking) which must total a minimum of 64 UCAS points. Or hold a UK degree at Grade 2:2 or higher (or acceptable alternative)
Requirements
  • Be aged 17.5 – 38 years old
  • You must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or holder of dual UK/other nationality and have resided in the UK for at least the last 5 years
  • Commit to a minimum of 3 years post Phase 2 Specialist Training
  • Meet the health and fitness criteria
  • Pass a Fitness test - Details below

 

View all entry requirements >

Apprenticeships available
The RAF is one of the largest providers of diverse apprenticeships in the UK. We offer these apprenticeships for this role:
Level 5 Air Traffic Controller
The UK manages one of the busiest and most complex pieces of airspace in the world. A range of specialist air traffic controller roles contribute to the safe and efficient movement of aircraft with civil and military operations working collaboratively to maintain a fully integrated service to all users, 24 hours a day, every day of the year
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CAREER, TRAINING
& EDUCATION
At any level or position your personal success is vital to make us succeed too. We are dedicated to your future, as it is essential to ours. You will receive basic and specialist training in your field and we even provide the option to pay for your education. The experience you gain with the RAF will equip you to work at the top of your field, both in the UK and overseas.
01
Phase one training
Officer Training
white stopwatch icon for duration 24 weeks
white map-pin icon for location RAF Cranwell
Your career will start with the Modular Initial Officer Training Course (MIOTC) at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire where you will follow a challenging 24-week syllabus to develop your leadership and management skills.
02
Phase two training
Specialist Training
white stopwatch icon for duration 28/30 weeks
white map-pin icon for location RAF Shawbury
Specialist training is delivered at the Defence College of Air and Space Operations at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire.
03
First tour
Specialist training
white stopwatch icon for duration 24-36 months
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
You will be based at one of the RAF’s airfields around the UK or in Cyprus, at a Control and Reporting Centre or at the Air Traffic Control Centre.
04
Your career prospects
Ongoing development
white stopwatch icon for duration Ongoing
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
You will join the RAF on an initial commission of 12 years and may be selected to continue your service on a pension earning commission of 20 years’ service or to age 40, whichever is the later.
05
Foundation Degree
Ongoing education
white stopwatch icon for duration
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
Successful completion of the Air Traffic Controllers Course and requisite workplace training will mean eligibility for the brand-new Air Space Management Foundation Degree
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06
Continued development
Ongoing training
white stopwatch icon for duration Ongoing
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
Subsequent tours of duty may see you being employed in a wide variety of areas, including:
07
Transferable skills
Accredited training
white stopwatch icon for duration Ongoing
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
Much of our in-house training is accredited and/or recognised by external awarding bodies.
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WHY JOIN
THE RAF?

Thanks to subsidised food, travel, accommodation and free gym you get more money in your pocket.

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Benefits icon for Rent from £75p/m
Rent from £75p/m
Benefits icon for Free gym
Free gym
Benefits icon for Subsidised food
Subsidised food
Benefits icon for Health care
Health care
Benefits icon for World travel
World travel
Benefits icon for Training
Training
WHAT HAPPENS
AFTER APPLYING
Joining the RAF takes several steps. Below is an overview of the process. The purpose of this process is for us to gauge whether you’re the right person for the RAF and for you to show us all of your skills and experiences that have made you who you are.
1
Aptitude Test
2
Filter interview
3
Health Assessment
4
Fitness Test
5
OASC
6
Familiarisation visit
7
Acceptance
1
Aptitude Test
Stage 1 of 7

The first step in the application process is a series of Computer Based Aptitude Tests (CBAT). These tests ensure we match the right candidate to the right role. They take place over one day at the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire, and measure your ability to perform specific tasks such as:

  • How well you respond physically to visual information
  • Your ability to interpret information in two dimensions and devise a three-dimensional solution
  • Your ability to complete several tasks simultaneously
  • Your natural abilities, including deductive reasoning, spatial reasoning, work rate and concentration, and verbal and numerical reasoning
2
Filter interview
Stage 2 of 7

Selection interviews help us get to know you a little better – and vice versa. You’ll get to show your skills and experience, and we’ll answer any questions you have about joining the RAF.

 

The interview covers the following topics:

  • Family life
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Special interests or hobbies
  • Interest in the RAF
3
Health Assessment
Stage 3 of 7

You’re legally required to meet certain medical standards, and must pass an occupational health assessment to show you’re fit for military duty. As part of this assessment we will check your overall health, focusing on areas like hearing, eyesight and body mass index. We’ll also investigate any past illnesses and screen for health issues that may prevent you from carrying out your role.

View details below for more information about the health standards you’ll need to meet.

4
Fitness Test
Stage 4 of 7

A good level of fitness is critical to joining the RAF, it’s also something that must be maintained throughout your career. You’ll need to complete a Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFC). This will take place at a local gym near to you, and includes a 2.4km run, push up test and a sit-up test.

 

The performance level you’ll need to meet differs by age and gender. Please refer to the entry requirements below for more information about the health standards you’ll need to meet. You can also find help, and a training plan, to assist you in your preparation here.

5
OASC
Stage 5 of 7

This will be your second visit to the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre. OASC lasts one day, but you will arrive the day before. During this time the officers will be assessing your leadership, teamwork, communication, motivation, and problem solving.

 

The day will end with an interview. The first half of the interview covers your achievements at school and college, in sports, your community, at work, and as a cadet, scout or guide.

The second half explores your motivation for joining the RAF – what you know about current affairs and the RAF’s role in the national and international arena, current operations the RAF is involved in and your knowledge about the RAF and the role you've applied for.

 

6
Familiarisation visit
Stage 6 of 7

This takes place over 2 days and is designed to give you an insight into officer training. You’ll be issued with your initial kit, including your boots, attend lectures, and also repeat the fitness test taken at OASC.

7
Acceptance
Stage 7 of 7

Once you’ve successfully completed each phase of the application process you’ll be invited to a provisional offer of service interview at your nearest AFCO.

 

This is to ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of service in the RAF, are fully committed to joining, and prepared to commence training.

ENTRY
REQUIREMENTS

You must be aged between 17.5 – 38 years old.

Applicants must also read all of the sections below and make sure they meet all entry requirements before submitting an application.

EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

Have these minimum grades:

  GCSE pre-2017 GCSE 2017 and after Scottish National 5
Mathematics C Grade 4 C
English Language C Grade 4 C
Three Other Subjects C Grade 4 C

In addition, you need at least 2 A2 Levels/3 Highers at Grade C or above (excluding General Studies or Critical Thinking) which must total a minimum of 64 UCAS points.

If you hold a UK degree at Grade 2:2 or higher (or acceptable alternative) you only need Mathematics and English Language at a minimum of GCSEs Grade C/4 or Scottish National 5 grade C.

You can see what the RAF accepts in lieu of GCSEs & A Levels here.

NATIONALITY & RESIDENCY

You must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or holder of dual UK/other nationality.

Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the 5 years immediately preceding your application. However, candidates with a minimum of 3 years will be considered.

FITNESS REQUIREMENTS

You must be physically fit to complete both initial and specialist training, and to do your role effectively. To check your fitness levels, we put every candidate through at least two separate fitness tests as part of the application process.

The first of these is the Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT) which takes place at a fitness centre local to you. This consists of the following:

  • 2.4km (1.5m) run on a treadmill (set to zero incline)
  • Achieve the required number of press-ups - within 60 seconds
  • Achieve the required number of sit-ups - within 60 seconds

The second fitness test will take place at RAF Cranwell as part of your familiarisation visit. This consists of the following:

  • Achieving the required score on the Multi-Stage Fitness Test (MSFT or Bleep test)
  • Achieve the required number of press-ups - within 60 seconds
  • Achieve the required number of sit-ups - within 60 seconds

How fit you need to be to pass these tests can vary depending on role, age and gender. The requirements are listed on the charts below (Men and Women).

MEN - 100% pass rates:
AGE 2.4 Km Run Multi-Stage Fitness Test Press-ups Sit-ups
  (Mins) (Score) (No.) (No.)
15-16 11.39 9.03 20 35
17-29 11.11 9.10 20 35
30-34 11.36 9.04 19 32
35-39 12 8.09 18 29
40-44 12.26 8.03 17 26
45-47 12.54 7.07 16 23

 

WOMEN - 100% pass rates:
AGE 2.4 Km Run Multi-Stage Fitness Test Press-ups Sit-ups
  (Mins) (Score) (No.) (No.)
15-16 13.54 6.07 10 32
17-29 13.23 7.02 10 32
30-34 13.47 6.08 9 29
35-39 14.13 6.04 8 26
40-44 14.48 5.08 7 23
45-47 15.19 5.04 6 20

You can see the protocols for Press Ups & Sit Ups here:

PJFT/PRTC/Fam Visit Protocols

You can download an MP3 file of the Multi-Stage Fitness Test below, listen to the introduction file first:

RAF MSFT: Intro

RAF MSFT: Bleep Test

You can see a video demonstration of the PRTC Fitness Test here:

RAF Fam Visit Fitness Test

A 12-week fitness plan with detailed information to help you get ready for all of the fitness tests can be downloaded here.

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

Candidates joining the RAF must be medically fully fit, both physically and psychologically, to meet the challenges of military service, during which they will be expected to deploy, potentially at short notice, to locations world-wide that are remote from established medical care. 

 

Certain medical conditions could preclude entry to the RAF. Further details can be found in this document. 

Before your application, please note that Body Mass Index Requirements are as follows: 

Age Male and female minimum Male and female maximum Male maximum with additional assessment Female maximum with additional assessment
18 + 18 30 32 32
16 to < 18 17 27 27 27

Calculate your BMI here 

 

Eyesight requirements vary for different roles. A requirement to wear glasses or contact lenses may be allowed for aircrew. 
 
If you are unsure about any health criteria, please continue your application and your eligibility will be assessed at the medical examination stage.  

 

During your application, the Medical Risk Assessment that all candidates undergo is there to make sure that you are healthy enough for the intense training required by the RAF. Your application will be rejected if you fail to meet the minimum acceptable medical standard for entry. Your medical history is confidential and is not disclosed to those not authorised to hold this information. 

DURING YOUR APPLICATION:

The Medical Risk Assessment that all candidates undergo is there to make sure that you are healthy enough for the intense training required by the RAF. Your application will be rejected if you fail to meet the minimum acceptable medical standard for entry. Your medical history is confidential and is not disclosed to those not authorised to hold this information.

BACKGROUND CHECKS

YOU MUST:

  • Declare any previous spent and unspent convictions
  • Check if you qualify under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 through this summary
  • Have a basic background check to get Security Check level clearance
DISQUALIFYING FACTORS

YOU CAN'T APPLY FOR THE RAF IF YOU:

  • Have been or are a member of a group that stirs up racial hatred and violence
  • Are waiting to appear in court, or have unspent convictions. You may also have to declare spent convictions for certain roles
  • Misuse drugs, solvents and anabolic steroids. But each case is considered upon its own merits
  • Have tattoos, brands or bead implants that are obscene or offensive. 
    Any permanent or temporary tattoos, whether ordinarily visible or not, must not be obscene or offensive (eg, racist, anti-religion or belief, crude, overtly sexist, homophobic, drug related or of an extreme political nature). Tattoos may be worn on the side and back of the neck but tattoos on the back of the neck must not extend above the natural hairline (scalp tattoos are not permitted). 
  • Have body piercing which causes holes that do not close up
  • Declare yourself to be an 'undischarged' bankrupt

Beard Policy: A revised facial hair policy has been agreed by the Air Force Board which will allow serving personnel to wear a smart, neatly-trimmed, full-set beard whilst maintaining high standards of appearance. The length of acceptable beards is between Grade 1 (2.5mm) and Grade 8 (25.5mm). The wearing of beards during Phase 1 and Phase 2 training is currently under consideration and details will be advised when available

If you don’t have any of the above, you might still be able to apply. For more information please contact us.

APPLY
NOW
Got what it takes? Start your application here.
RAF Air Operations Systems Officer in control tower with headset